#311 Ebay lens purchase

Remember my Graflex post?

Yesterday we received an ebay purchase for the Graflex in the mail – a 75mm lens for the large format press camera. I was very excited.


Yep, there are very few lenses available for sale in Ottawa for 4×5 cameras. The Camera Trading Company has another Graflex camera for sale but, alas, not the wide angle lens I lusted after.

I started searching online – finding a good deal on ebay. I have had good experiences there before.

Buyer beware

It was billed as “Glass is clean and clear. Shutter, focus, and f-stop are smooth, solid, and consistent. Body is in very good condition.” The seller had a 99% positive rating and over 22,000 sales – a reasonable track record.

The lens arrived. I found the shutter speed ring was seized. Seized?! Deflated, I started to dread contacting the seller about the bad lens they had sold me.

Canadian Camera to the rescue

Before contacting the selling store I thought it best to consult Canadian Camera – Ottawa’s prominent camera repair shop. I went in and presented my conundrum – had the lens seized or had I missed something?

Kishor and Raj are super. With years of experience and problem solving they quickly found the trouble – the shutter had been modified for another lens. Coupled with the glass of my new lens the shutter speed ring would not move. Removing the spacing ring (second from left, below) solved the problem.

Nikon 75mm Large Format lens


Many thanks to Canadian Camera. The Ohio based ebay seller also forgot to send the lens board we bought. I need to contact them – Any suggestions as to what to say?

#310 Photojournalism and Social Documentary Workshop with David Trattles and Canadian Geographic

That’s a long title and feels a little stodgy. It doesn’t do justice to Dave’s upcoming workshop.

More apt might be:

Dave’s photo workshop on life, laughter, and how to create an intimate story with people at  street level.


How to capture the social fabric of a people or community with Dave


Burst with smiles and laughter as David Trattles guides you through the essence of street level photography.

David Trattles

Dave’s no normal photographer, thank goodness. Where most photographers might spend an hour taking a photo, Dave spends a month getting to know his subject.

He has spent 20 years around the world on a bike getting to know people and telling their stories through a camera. He’s passionate, whacky, and loves people. His website proudly offers:

All photography that involves people. Documentary, Travel, Portrait and Weddings.

Taking photographs of ordinary people who do extraordinary things by looking into themselves and their friends, family.

Extraordinary Things

Dave does things in extraordinary ways including how he leads the workshop. A past HarryNowell.com student asked “Will there be any… practical application, or is it all lecture?

I don’t think Dave would ever lecture – and I mean that in a positive way. His sessions are lively, provocative and will teach you more than you would ever learn at a semester of photo classes.

Dave says “the workshop will be a series of assignments followed by review and discussion with the intention of building narrative.

David Trattles

Dave does things differently – how many people waltz up to the Prime Minister and get the reaction above? – even security is smiling. He does not teach f-stops, exposures and photoshop. He helps you see how to see and how to tell a story.

The Workshop

The workshop is based at Canadian Geographic Headquarters (and not in the field) because what Dave teaches is best taught in many, small doses with your day’s fresh catch on the screen.

When I contacted Kathy and Gilles at Canadian Geographic HQ they needed no convincing to be involved with this David Trattles workshop. They have donated time and space and advertising, asking for nothing in return. They love how he works with people.

Canadian Geographic

Canadian Geographic magazine

His photos glow. His students smile.

#309 Graflex groove

I have eluded to a new project I am working on with a Graflex camera. So today – some more info.

The Graflex camera cornered the photography market for decades. It was the ultimate camera for many uses. Vast quantities of the camera were produced because of its merits:

  • tough, fail proof mechanics
  • compactness (for its time) and portability
  • excellent results


Graflex cornered the editorial or press photography market for many years including WWII. The last of the Graflex cameras was produced in the early 1970s.

Look at any newspaper photo in the 30’s 40’s and 50’s and chances are it was shot with a Graflex. The work was amazing.

Many people still use the Graflex for artistic projects and the technical merits are still there:

  • simple technology
  • enormous file sizes
  • matched with modern view camera lenses the Graflex knocks the socks off modern cameras

Enormous file sizes?

  • Traditional 35mm film and new ‘full frame’ digital cameras capture subjects with a sensor or film size of 864 square millimetres.
  • Most digital SLR cameras use a sensor that is 384 mm2.
  • A 4×5 Graflex uses 12500 mm2 film.

For web use or small prints the extra size is wasted. Large prints is where the Graflex will shine. Many accomplished photographers use larger versions – Karsh and Burtinsky both use(d) an 8×10 film camera.

So, why don’t people use these cameras more? There are limitations.

  • The camera is slow to use. You load 4″x5″ sheets of film individually. That’s time consuming.
  • Each piece of film costs ~$6 to purchase and process.

One of the beauties of the Graflex is it slows you down. Being a high cost per shot forces you to get back to basics and think through the shot before exposing the film.

On a recent shoot I exposed 10 sheets of film in an hour – that’s fast! I then shot 41 frames of the same subject in 10 minutes on a digital camera. They’re different technologies with different uses.

#308 Olympic paddler

I continued some work on accomplished athletes for a stock and commercial art project.

I first met James Cartwright while shooting an editorial assignment covering the rebuilding of a national team training site in central Ottawa as part of a feature on urban renewal in downtown Ottawa.

Olympics & World Cup

James Cartwright is a veteran of three Olympic games and World Cup competition as a C1 slalom paddler. He has placed as high as 6th in international competition.

Photo Fun

After my shoot I spent some time capturing James play on a wave at the Pumphouse, downtown Ottawa. See the fun below:

James Cartwright

James Cartwright

James Cartwright

#307 Tony Fouhse gets noticed in NYC

I just noticed (thanks Alexi) that one of Ottawa’s grittiest photographers recently got some good press in the New York Times.

 Tony Fouhse took on some personal work – it’s a long story revealed in the links below – shooting large portraits of people at a street corner in central Ottawa. That specific street corner sees many crack addicts pass by. Over time Tony  ended up with some very real portraits of an often shunned group of people. The portraits were shot with permission and collaboration.

I have seen some of his work at La Petite Mort. I think Tony gave his subjects respect and time – something they are often denied. Nice work Tony!

See the NY Times piece.

See Tony at La Petite MortGallery.

See Tony’s web site.

#306 It’s out – Exposed! Photo Newsletter

July’s installment of the Exposed! photo Newsletter merrily flew around the world this morning.

Exposed! Advanced Exposure Techniques

The man ahead of me at the commercial photo lab lamented the dreary weather that caused his dull winter arctic photos. He had shot some beautifully desolate snow scenes.

Sadly, I could see his ‘dull photos caused by dreary weather’ were actually all underexposed.

Accomplished, self taught hobby photographers with years of photo experience often miss learning the intricacies of exposure.

So, in this edition of Exposed! we delve into intricacies and creative opportunities of exposure …

Read the full article

Mastering Exposures

Mastering Creative Exposures

#305 Student Portraits

Last week I taught a Custom Course based on the Natural Light Portrait Course and posted a few of my photos of photographer and model.

Nathalie’s portraits are fun and well done. She has sent some of her photos to present to the world:


Natural Light Portraits Photo Workshop

Natural Light Portraits Photo Workshop

Nathalie is working quickly through her Pro Program for those looking to make photography their profession. Her website is under development – we will be announcing her launch as it comes.

Nice work, Nat!


#304 Gallery Visit – August

Based on the success of July’s gallery visit of the Canadian Museum of Contemporary Photography’s exhibition of Scott McFarland’s large prints we are offering a gallery visit in August. This is an informal social gathering. There is no cost to participate.

Please note: Our gallery visit has changed dates and location to take advantage of a great opportunity. The new details:

World Press Photo 09

Thursday, August 20th, 2009 – 6:30pm

Gallery Cost: Free Museum entry after 5pm
Meet in the main lobby of the Canadian War Museum, 1 Vimy Place, Ottawa
See some of the finest photojournalism and press photography of the year as we soak in “World Press Photo 09.”

See you there,

#303 Dave McMahon flying

This week I had the opportunity to shoot Dave McMahon for a stock and commercial art project.

Dave McMahon is an accomplished athlete – National Biathlon Champion with many other accomplishments. He now runs XCZone.tv providing video footage and producing films of “Clean Oxygen Fed Sport.”

We ventured into Gatineau Park for some trail running photos and caught him flying along the trail – both feet off the ground.

He’s fast.

Dave McMahon - xczone.tv

Dave McMahon